FACT CHECK: Do These Images Show Celebrity Reactions To Will Smith Hitting Chris Rock?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows the expressions of Academy Awards attendees after actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage.

Verdict: False

The images show the reactions of various celebrities after the wrong film was announced as the winner of the Best Picture category at the 2017 Academy Awards.

Fact Check:

Smith slapped Rock after the comedian made a joke regarding his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her shaved head during the Academy Awards March 27, according to Variety. Rock declined to press charges against the actor, the outlet reported.

The meme, posted March 28 on Facebook, includes a collage of images that feature singer John Legend, actor Meryl Streep, former WWE wrestler and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and other actors exhibiting seemingly alarmed and shocked looks. The caption of the post claims all of the photos were taken shortly after Smith hit Rock on stage. (RELATED: Did Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Lose 48 Million Twitter Followers After Endorsing Joe Biden For President?)

However, all of the images in the post predate the incident between Smith and Rock. An internet search reveals all the images originate from the 2017 Academy Awards following the mistaken announcement that “La La Land” had won Best Picture honors. The film “Moonlight” was announced as the true winner of the Best Picture award less than three minutes after the first mistaken announcement, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Legend’s expression can be seen in a YouTube video that features the announcement of the correct winner. The image of actress Emma Stone appeared in a 2017 Reuters report, while a Mashable article that same year included the picture of Streep. Actors Matt Damon, Salma Hayek, Michelle Williams and Johnson’s images were originally part of a photo that the Los Angeles Times posted on Twitter in February 2017.

The Associated Press published larger versions of the photo showing actors Ryan Gosling and Jaden Piner, which were taken on Feb. 26, 2017. The image of Mel Gibson was part of an Insider article released the same day. The New York Times also tweeted a photo that day containing the pictures of actors David Oyelowo and Charlize Theron. Actor Trevante Rhodes and director Barry Jenkins’ images were part of a photo displayed in a tweet by journalist Courtney Enlow.

After hitting the comedian, Smith received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams in the film “King Richard,” according to NPR. Smith posted a statement on social media the day after he struck Rock, apologizing to him and calling his actions “unacceptable and inexcusable.”

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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